Pentecost gave the Church a voice. The voice had authority. The voice penetrated to the heart of Jerusalem (Acts 5:28, 6:7). People had two options: hear the voice or resist the voice. There was no force or manipulative coercion. Each person had to make their own free will decision. Those who responded to the voice were radically transformed. The motives of those who resisted the voice were exposed. Because Jerusalem was a governmental center the impact began to shake and shift the nation. Persecution only multiplied the impact.
There are many voices in modern Christendom. It’s important that we understand where each voice comes from. James makes it abundantly clear: “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). Many voices come from anger, frustration, impatience and striving. The original Pentecost was different. Their voice resonated not with human anger, but with heavenly mandate. We must discern the difference. The problem is this: anger makes us feel righteous. Righteous anger is much rarer than people realize. In fact the foundational revelation about God’s anger is that He is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, 103:8, 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3). Let’s be honest, our zeal can be rooted in anger, or love, but most often both.
James describes the characteristics of the voice that resonated from Pentecost: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). That doesn’t mean it wasn’t confrontational, direct, clear and in-your-face. It was all of those thing, but most importantly, it resonated with something that was heavenly, not earthly. Paul says in Colossians 3:1-2, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Christ is “seated at the right hand of God.” This language describes a governmental seat. That’s why when we connect with Christ our voices have authority.
There are two things we need to beware of: the political spirit and the religious spirit. In fact these two forces usually work hand-in-glove. Is God interested in politics? The simple answer is yes. He is interested in politics because He is interested in people. Politics and policies impact people. As Christians we shouldn’t be frightened to have a voice in the political arena, however, we must guard against yielding to a political spirit. Religious and political spirits feign righteousness. They then force or coerce others to take sides. Religious and political forces can deceive even the discerning. When a clear sound comes from heaven it cuts through the fog of confusion and helps people see and know the truth. They can then make free will decisions. A political or religious spirit will try and bind people to its perspective and insist that people join a particular party or way of thinking.
Are we too frightened to have a voice and be a voice? Are we intimidated by the chaos and confusion created by politics and the media? Jesus has a clear perspective and clear voice. We are connected to Him and His voice resonates through us. If we listen for His voice it will penetrate through the cacophony of chaotic sounds clamoring for our attention. The voice that comes from heaven cuts through earthly agendas and re-orientates people toward heavenly ones. It’s time for the Church to have a voice!
© 2020 Nathan Shaw